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Too little too late for Griezmann at Barcelona?

Domagoj Kostanjšak

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With his rather impressive brace against Granada last weekend, Antoine Griezmann ended his seven-game goal drought for Barcelona. For a player of his incredible quality, going seven games without a goal feels like an eternity.

Of course, it has to be said that the Frenchman has not exactly been a mainstay in Ronald Koeman’s plans as of late but that is also a direct result of his misfortune in front of goal. The word misfortune is certainly debatable here.

We know Griezmann is as lethal as they come. After all, he’s shown as much during his Atlético Madrid days and apart from Lionel Messi and maybe a handful of others, the forward is one of the few who consistently outperformed their expected goals (xG) values year upon year. And that playing for a rather defensive Rojiblancos team under Diego Simeone too.

Atletico Madrid Griezmann was a different beast. (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images)

Needless to say, that’s a feat worthy of praise and one not many would be able to replicate. His Barcelona stint so far, however, could be described as him only being the shadow of his former self. 22 goals and nine assists across 71 games played for the Catalan giants is a decent return for any player not costing €120 million. Still, unfortunately for the French star, that’s how much Barcelona paid for him in the summer of 2019.

To put things into perspective a bit more, that’s around €5.45 million per goal so far or exactly four million euros per goal-contribution (goals + assists). Barcelona are a wealthy club (or they used to be), but even for them, this is luxury beyond reason.

However, this is largely out of context as Griezmann’s underperformance was never due to shaky work rate, lack of discipline or simply commitment. Yes, the famous La Decision is likely to be held against him until the end of days, but that’s all water under the bridge if he proves that his heart is now firmly set on succeeding with the Azulgranas.

His ability to co-exist with Lionel Messi was brought under question numerous times and being forced out of position week in, week out wasn’t exactly doing him any favours either. For that reason, there are aspects in play here that he simply cannot control nor can he do a lot to change them.

Leo and Griezmann understand each other, but they play in the same position, creating clashes. (Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)

Reinventing himself completely at 29 years of age after years of success is surely not the ideal way to go for a player slowly exiting his prime and besides, is it not the club’s responsibility to have a clear plan in mind when going through with such a gigantic investment? In that regard, Griezmann is not to be blamed.

But he is to be blamed for missing chance after chance this season. In 2020/21, he’s already missed seven big chances according to SofaScore and can boast 14% goal conversion, scoring once every 237 minutes. Is this good enough? Hardly so for a player of his reputation.

Unfortunately, as a direct result of his subpar performances and difficulties at his new club, Griezmann’s market value has plummeted from an all-time high of €150m at the end of 2018 to his current €60m. Needless to say, this makes the situation…complicated.

Now, even if Barcelona would be willing to sell him, there is no way they get their investment back, even if we say that Transfermarkt’s evaluations are not 100% accurate. However, there have been signs of improvement in Griezmann’s performances in the last couple of games.

The Frenchman has scored two goals and assisted further two in 180 minutes he spent on the pitch against Granada and Athletic Club, igniting a spark of hope among the fans and the club as a whole. Additionally, he also assisted Barcelona’s solitary goal in the game in the Spanish Super Cup semi-finals against Real Sociedad.

Apart from his individual display being on a higher level, another common denominator in both games was also the change in formation from a 4-2-3-1 system to a 4-3-3, which seems to have helped the player.

Griezmann has the ability to piggy-back the team but seems out of place right now. (Photo via Imago)

But the question still remains: is this enough to change his fortune and make it at the Camp Nou? Is there enough time for Griezmann to become the star he was supposed to be?

Truth be told, a player does not lose all of your ability overnight but certain players have certain predispositions to play at certain clubs. Griezmann at Barcelona can and will work if Koeman finds the right formula. Evidently, this is easier said than done and will require a lot of work.

What is also evident is that when he feels comfortable and is actually a part of a functioning system, Griezmann is as lethal as they come. The Atlético Madrid Griezmann would have buried all seven of those big chances missed with his eyes closed.

When you think about it, this whole situation is an enchanted circle – Griezmann misses big chances, his confidence plummets, the fanbase slates him, and then he misses even more as the cycle repeats itself. The alternative, however, follows the same pattern.

Griezmann bags a couple of goals, his confidence skyrockets, the fanbase goes crazy and then he bags even more. The cycle repeats once more, only this time, the effect is the polar opposite. So again, this is not the question of quality, which we know is certainly there, but of finding the formula for success.

Of course, this is not much of a revelation at all, but at the end of the day, it’s the only viable option for Barcelona. Selling Griezmann now at his lowest point is out of the question – it does not make much sense, neither in a sporting nor a financial sense for the club.

Finding a place for him to thrive within the proper system, however, surely is. After all, the proof is in the pudding, and the last couple of games suggest the Frenchman has a future in Catalonia.

Why do we fall, sir? (Photo via Imago)

Once he gets going and Koeman – or someone else – finds that sweet spot, there’ll be no stopping him or the Azulgrana. Don’t know about you but we simply can’t wait for that.

I’ve been a Barcelona fan for more than half of my life. What started as blind love is slowly turning into professional writing. Now, I get to write about Barca, analyse them, and voice my opinions on them across platforms. I’m happy to be a part of this big project.

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  1. Avatar

    Steve johnson

    15/01/2021 at 10:30

    Judging from his games from Barca it is unbelievable that Griezman is the 5th all time top scorer of France. It is also unbelievable Koeman picked a player who had missed his last 4 penalties for club and country to shoot another penalty and miss for the 5th time in a row. Unbelievably it seems that the last time Griezman scored a penalty was on 13th Jan 2019 exactly 2 years ago! Who would choose a player with a record of 17/27 on penalties (according to transfermarkt) to shoot a penalty? But in the absence of Messi with not many penalty takers i suppose Koeman didnt have many choices. This shows the bad state of the current Barca team.

  2. Avatar

    Jason

    15/01/2021 at 15:28

    Only thing I cant wait for is that this fraud leaves this club

Opinions

The Copa del Rey could be Barcelona’s only saving grace this season

Shahraiz Sajjad

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Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images

With the league out of sight, and the Champions League a distant dream, the Copa del Rey could be the saving grace Barcelona are looking for this season.


As much as it wrenches a Culés‘ heart to see the club they once witnessed conquer Europe with all it’s might now look like a pale shadow of its former self, it’s also vital to come to terms with the fact that Barça are still in the process of recovery, patching their wounds while attempting to rediscover its former glory.

Winning the Champions League and La Liga will invariably be the main motive at a club as big as Barcelona. Still, for once, the chances of contending with Europe’s elite seems immensely slim, especially with the continuous spells of inconsistencies the Azulgranas have endured this season.

Woefully, the club have also made it a customary practice to flounder against relatively bigger oppositions, cracking under pressure in amateur fashion. It’s safe to assume these old habits will once again die hard.

It might be a little too late to kickstart a challenge for the league, as Atletico Madrid do not appear to be showing any signs of slowing down in the league and teams like Bayern Munich and Manchester City are always major forces to reckon with in the Champions League. Not to mention, last year’s finalists – PSG – await Barça in the round of 16, who will undoubtedly be a tough nut to crack over the two legs. Having a shot against established sides in one of the club’s most vulnerable states does not seem plausible in the slightest.

Neymar and co. will love to have a shot at the trophy again. (Photo by MANU FERNANDEZ/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

However, despite the chances of winning the two big trophies looking ever so minuscule, the Copa Del Rey stands in solitude, waiting to reconcile with the team that has one way or another always found itself reclaiming this esteemed trophy as it habitually dresses in the Blaugrana colours at the end of the campaign.

Having been knocked out disgracefully in the Spanish Super Cup finals, the Copa del Rey may end up being a crucial source of silverware for the Catalan giants. The prize may not be as notable as the aforementioned competitions, yet it undeniably holds value and possesses the ability to save Barcelona’s turbulent season.

Albeit there’s no guaranteeing the road to success will be a stroll in the park for the Blaugranas, it’s apparent that the situation has been made considerably easier, as the fickle finger of fate blesses Barça’s fortunes with the shocking exits of Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

atletico Madrid copa del rey
The exclusion of Atleti should make things a bit easier for Barcelona in the Copa del Rey. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

Additionally, the fact that Sevilla square up against Valencia and Real Betis lock horns with Real Sociedad implies that two prominent teams will be forced to bid farewell to the competition in the next round, making Barça’s road to the final substantially less complicated.

While the Copa Del Rey’s primary stages are typically utilized to award youngsters and players from the B team opportunities with the first team, Ronald Koeman understandably appears to be opting for his best players in the upcoming round of 16 clash against Rayo Vallecano, who sit at 4th place in the Segunda Division.

Owing to the fact that two of Spain’s biggest teams have already departed the competition indicates that there is simply no margin for error and seeing how even the underdogs cannot be underestimated, Barca must use this as a lesson to showcase their winning mentality, even against sides from the lower divisions.

“It is an important moment of the season, we are doing well away from home. We will put up a strong line-up tomorrow. We know that the Cup is the shortest way to win something.”

Ronald Koeman | Pre-game press conference

For a team that has basked in silverware and has reigned supreme on the big stage for years, it’s absolutely quintessential to get back to winning ways. After a season full of turmoil, the Copa Del Rey is the least Barça should salvage. With the context perfect for victory, the acclaimed Spanish Competition could very well be Barça’s saving grace this season, and possibly sow the seeds for success.

messi copa del rey barcelona
Probably not enough to get him to stay, but there is no reason to not try. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

Of course, it is too soon to write Barça off in any competition yet, but if there’s one thing the club have proven time and time again, it is that they are still a serious work in progress. That said, the Copa Del Rey would be a respectable achievement for Barcelona during these troubling times. Although it may seem as if it is simply an acceptance of mediocrity, the cup would be a great stepping stone for the future, a chance to not only lift silverware again; but also to get into the habit of winning.

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